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Kenny Atkinson decides to start Jarrett Allen against Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns

Jarrett Allen of the Nets goes to the

Jarrett Allen of the Nets goes to the hoop in the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As per his habit, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson kept his cards close to the vest when asked during his pre-game news conference who his starting center would be. It’s quite possible he may alternate between third-year center Jarrett Allen and 11-year veteran DeAndre Jordan, depending on matchups all season.

As it turned out, Atkinson went with Allen for the season opener against the Timberwolves and All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns Wednesday night at Barclays Center. It marked the first time Jordan has come off the bench since the 2010-11 season.

On the one hand, the Nets figured to need Jordan’s 6-11, 265-pound bulk against the 7-foot Towns, but on the other, Allen had more mobility to cover Towns at the three-point line. Describing that matchup before the game, Atkinson said, “Tough task. He’s playing out on the perimeter a lot more now. So, big challenge for DeAndre and Jarrett. We do have options if we want to go another way and matchup more with them on the perimeter, put more speed on them. We could do that if they’re going to hang out on the perimeter all night.

“This is where the matchups and strategy and all that comes into play. We have to be ready to play a great player.”

Allen, who played 36 minutes, finished the game with six points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Jordan got in 16 minutes and had two points and three rebounds.

The addition of Jordan, though, gives Atkinson more options than in the past three seasons. Jordan came into the game as the NBA’s all-time leader in field goal percentage at 67.0 percent. He led the league five straight seasons from 2012-17 and finished second in 2017-18. He also ranks fourth among active players in rebounds (8,890), offensive rebounds (2,660) and blocks (1,350). Allen ranked seventh in the NBA last season with 117 dunks, eighth in field-goal percentage (59.0) and 12th in blocks (1.5).

Notes & quotes: The Nets announced the signing of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to a two-way contract.

New York Sports